Depression is one of the most common types of illness worldwide. There are almost 350 million people suffering from depression globally. More than 19 million people in America suffer from depression every year. Out of every 10 people in America 1 suffers from depression.
Famous people like Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Michelangelo and Mark Twain also suffered from depression. Hollywood celebrities Jim Carrey, Brooke Shield and Owen Wilson are also known to have this disease.
Depression is a kind of mental illness that can affect your physical as well as mental performance and in some severe cases it can be life threatening. According to WHO (World Health Organization), “Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease.”
Almost two-thirds of depression patients do not get necessary treatment. It is important for every individual to have a better understanding of this disease so that if you or your loved ones ever encounter depression you will know how to cope with it.
What are the causes of major depression?
There are many factors that contribute to the development of clinical depression some of which are mentioned:
- Depression is associated with some biological factors such as chemical imbalances in the brain. Too much or too little production of brain chemicals can cause clinical depression. Depression in most cases is genetically inherited.
- Women are likely to develop depression twice as often as men. Out of every 4 women 1 suffers from depression in her lifetime. Women face depression usually because of the hormonal imbalances during pregnancy, childbirth, menstruation and menopause. It is also believed that the stress levels in women are relatively higher than men which also become a major cause of depression.
- Some of the depressions are linked with cognitive behaviors. People having negative thinking, critical views about themselves and low self esteem are more at a risk of developing serious depression.
- Depression can be caused by situational factors such as people who are divorced, unemployed or have other financial issues are more likely to develop this illness. Also People who face death of loved ones at some time in their life may suffer from depression.
- People with major diseases like cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, thyroid and hormonal disorders can develop depression in conjunction with these diseases.
- In some cases depression occurs as a side effect when a certain type of medicine is taken. Use of certain medicines such as barbiturates, benzodiazepine, codeine and beta-blockers cause depression.
What are the symptoms of Depression?
Here is a list of some common symptoms of depression. If in any case 5 or more symptoms are experienced by you for a time period exceeding two weeks, then there is a chance that you have developed this disease. It is suggested that you seek medical assistance by a qualified mental health professional as soon as possible.
- If you persistently feel anxious or sad or a feel a state called “empty” mood
- If you feel too sleepy or couldn’t sleep at all
- Loss of appetite and reduction in weight or increased appetite or gain in weight
- Irritability or restlessness
- If you feel any kind of difficulty in concentrating, making decisions or memorizing
- Lack of energy or fatigue
- Feeling hopeless, guilty or worthless
- If your mind gets occupied with thoughts of death or suicide
- If you persistently feel physical symptoms that are not responding to treatments such as chronic pains, headaches, digestive disorders or constipation
- Lack of interest in activities that were previously enjoyed by you
How can depression be treated?
People who suffer from depression are usually hopeless and they feel that they could not get out of this state for the rest of their lives. But this is not true; there is good news for depression patients. Researches prove that depression is successfully treated in 60 to 80% cases.
- The best way to treat depression is by psychotherapy and in some cases support groups can be very helpful
- In several cases “talk” therapy has proven to be very beneficial, these talk therapies last for 12-20 weeks
- In case where depression is related to negative thinking the therapists focus on making the patient recognize such thinking patterns and help the patient to change them
- Another approach involves improvement of patient’s relationship with other associated people; this will enable the patient to get rid of the feelings of hopelessness
- Antidepressants are one of the most commonly used drugs that help treat depression. 30 to 45% of depression patients have been cured by the use of antidepressants. They are helpful in improving sleep, mood, concentration and appetite. In most cases it takes 4 to 9 months for the medications to prevent the depression to reoccur. It is advised not to stop taking anti-depressants unless your doctor advice you to do so
How can you help yourself to get out of depression?
There are some measures you can take to overcome this disease. The trick is to have positive approach towards life.
- Try to keep stress away from your life, set goals that are realistic and easily achievable
- Socialize more, by socializing you may find solution of many problems you encounter in your life
- Try to keep yourself busy and participate in activities you enjoy the most
- It has been suggested that a 30minutes exercise 5 times a week, even walk can help you relax
- It is also advised not to make important decisions while you are in a state of depression
It has been estimated by the World Health Organization that by 2020, depression will be the number 2 cause of “lost years of healthy life”. An estimated suicidal rate of depression patients is 15% so it is suggested to take timely treatment before such consequences occur.
Image courtesy: Flickr, Victor